JOHANNESBURG - Jozef Vukusic is excitedly anticipating his maiden Polokwane derby. “Derbies are great matches everywhere in the world,” the Polokwane City coach said yesterday. “I’ve been involved in a few before and I know what these kind of matches mean for the clubs, the fans and the cities they are played in.”
Rise and Shine host Baroka FC on Saturday, searching for their maiden win of the season after they lost both their opening matches - 1-0 to Black Leopards and 2-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns. Vukusic though is not stressing himself about chasing a win but is rather focused on preparing his team to play a good game according to the plan.
“Of course, it would be great to win the derby,” he said after the club’s morning training session at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium. “But my first priority is to think about the game; For me it is important to prepare the team, to prepare them mentally and physically and tactically.
"So, as a coach, I don’t think about results but the key is to follow our objectives and plan. For me it is all about how we will react to the situation on the field. Stay concentrated until the end of the match.”
Vukusic, who joined Polokwane from the National First Division (NFD) at the beginning of this season, is aware of what lies ahead for his team. “Baroka have played three matches and they’ve just played a very good game against Kaizer (Chiefs). They have very good players and we will have to lift up our game to compete against them. But it is an exciting time for us, I am excited about the match and I hope that the fans come in their numbers to make it a fantastic afternoon,”
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Nyirenda heads to derby with confidence
The psychologist in Wedson Nyirenda would have been working overtime since yesterday and will do so until Saturday. As he prepares Baroka FC for the Polokwane derby, the Zambian great’s biggest challenge is keeping complacency out of his dressing room.
Unlike City, Baroka have had a fairly good start to the campaign with a win and a draw from their three matches. The 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs on Tuesday night, however, has Nyirenda - a former Amakhosi striker - a little concerned.
“Saturday’s game has to be a new one altogether. We have to face it very differently. We were playing the glamorous Chiefs and now we are playing Polokwane. We have to manage the players’ psyche,” he said
“The danger we have is that somebody can take this performance and go to sleep saying: ‘I played well (against Chiefs, therefore, it will be easy against the others)’. But a champion never sleeps.”
It is this kind of attitude that has helped Nyirenda to some great successes as a coach in his native Zambia. His tactical savvy is already evident at Baroka, who are exhibiting an attacking brand of football that suffocates opposition.
Yesterday we played @KaizerChiefs
we tried our best but unfortunately our best was not enough.
The game as 1-1 draw.
We now have to get up and prepare for @polokwane_city this coming weekend. pic.twitter.com/xrfXQFZcC4
“This is the approach that we have. Our playing style is all about putting pressure on our opponents. Even against AmaZulu who beat us, we were pressing, we are not afraid of anyone and we put them under pressure because we need to get the ball quickly and attack.”
Against a Polokwane outfit that loves to play with the ball, Baroka’s approach should make for an entertaining derby. And while the game is Polokwane’s home encounter, it will be played at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium - Baroka’s official home ground.
Baroka are eager to be invinceable at home, Nyirenda said. “Slowly, we are making Peter Mokaba (Stadium) our fortress. Actually we must name it The Cemetry because everyone who comes here, we have to bury.”
He is excitedly anticipating the derby: “It is always interesting when you play derbies. Polokwane have started slow ... It will be an exciting match because no one wants to be beaten in his own backyard.”